Smack bang in the middle of Capital Market, Hakka cuisine eatery LAB 151 takes the concept of experimenting with your food quite literally.
It's the overarching theme of the relatively new entrant to the Market — and it's fun, cheeky and full of ways to add your own twist to your meal. Standing in stark contrast to the rest of the food court, the slick, clean lines and predominantly white decor resemble a real lab. The menu is your lab manual, with clear instructions on how to construct your own creations, and the drinks come in beakers (because of course they do).
We donned our lab goggles and with the hypothesis that variety is indeed the spice of life, decided to jump straight in with a bit of everything. The centrepiece of LAB 151's menu is their bian dang, or packed meals, which allow you to experiment with one main, up to three sides and a choice of sauces. We opted for the Hakka pork belly with rice and salad ($10) and crumbed prawns with fried free-range egg ($8.5). The flavours won't have you shouting 'eureka', but they get the job done and the Hakka pork belly in particular is rich, just the right level of fatty and packs a decent bite.
We weren't going to stop by a Taiwanese eatery without grabbing a side of steamed dumplings, and we went for the pork and cabbage and pork and garlic chive dumplings ($8 for 8) — because, as every good scientist knows, the more evidence the better. We concluded that the dumplings, which come with a chilli soy sauce and salad, are juicy, filled with flavour and a solid choice all round.
The drinks on offer include Six Barrel Sodas, a very wise choice on the part of LAB 151. The lemon honey ginger and hibiscus sodas ($5 each) come in the aforementioned beakers and deliver a beautiful fizz to help wash the greasiness down. Your other choices of drink include house brewed tea, milk tea (with toppings), and gelato and sorbet iced tea with Kaffee Eis ice creams.
LAB 151 isn't exactly fine dining, but they know what they're doing and execute their concept well. It's a place where you're not meant to take yourself too seriously, and the experimentation is an integral part of the experience. Our main findings from the lab are that the competitive prices and range of food options are the winners at the end of the day.